By Matthew Rothschild on August 12, 2009

If I were Barack Obama, I wouldn’t be doing many public events.

And if I were Michelle, I’d be demanding that he stay home.

Why?

Because the crazies are out in force.

When the rightwing nuts start carrying signs with Obama as Hitler and the Antichrist, when they start bringing loaded guns to his events, when they start saying things like “Euthanize Obama,” the climate is getting just too ugly.

“Since Mr. Obama took office, the rate of threats against the President has increased 400 per cent from the 3,000 a year or so under President George W. Bush, according to Ronald Kessler, author of In the President's Secret Service,” reports the Telegraph of London.

Obama is facing more than 30 death threats a day, the paper said. And the Secret Service doesn’t have the resources to handle them all.

“We have half the agents we need,” one Secret Service member told Kessler.

Fueling the threats is a resurgent rightwing movement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center just released a study that says the militia movement is growing rapidly.

“All it lacks is a spark,” one ATF agent told the center, adding: “It’s only a matter of time before you see threats and violence."

The militia movement today is not exactly the same as the one that created Timothy McVeigh, however.

“A key difference this time,” says the Southern Poverty Law Center, “is that the federal government — the entity that almost the entire radical right views as its primary enemy — is headed by a black man.” This has “helped to racialize the Patriot movement.”

With Fox News and other rightwing outlets ginning up the Obamaphobia, it is too dangerous for the President of the United States to go out in public in our own country right now.

That is a sad commentary on our democracy.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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